August 7, 2012

School, Yes; Back to School, NO

I don't know why, at the start of every summer, I make lists of what we're going to do. I always peter out after a few weeks. At least it's happened enough years in a row that I now think of that at the beginning of summer: "I'd better do this stuff right away, since I always peter out after a few weeks." And fortunately, some of the stuff I do right away is signing the kids up for things like swimming lessons, so then I HAVE to follow through.


I'm looking forward to school starting, but I'm dreading the start of school:

• A million pieces of paperwork to fill out (WHY CAN WE NOT JUST CORRECT THE OLD FORMS?? WHY MUST I FILL IN ALL THE INFORMATION EVERY YEAR, FOR ALL FIVE CHILDREN, AND WHY IS MOST OF THE SAME INFORMATION NEEDED ON SEVERAL DIFFERENT FORMS?? AND COULDN'T I DO THIS ONLINE, WITH CONNECTED PROFILES SO INFO CAN COPY OVER FROM KID TO KID?? OTHER SCHOOLS ARE PWNING US ON THIS!!)

• A whole bunch of open houses to go to, each held at a weird and/or inconvenient time ("Let's see, this one's from 2:00-3:00 on a Wednesday; this one's 5:30-6:30 on Thursday, these two are both at the same time on Monday, this one is an ice cream social at 5:00 in the afternoon...")

• The massive pile of school supplies to be divided into five piles using non-parallel school supply lists ("Let's see, YOU needed TWO binders and FOUR folders and an eraser and a box of pencils and two boxes of crayons, and YOU needed two erasers and ONE folder and three boxes of pencils and a pencil box and FIVE binders, and somehow I have eight packs of highlighters I don't need...")

• And EVERY SINGLE PIECE LABELED WITH A CHILD'S NAME

• The papers from each teacher specifying VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION I will need to put on the calendar and/or put on the shopping list and/or still be able to find in six weeks and/or sign and send back with a check, and all the gym days when different kids will need sneakers, and all the school picture dates/forms to handle ("Package A doesn't have a size I need; Package B has a size I don't need; Package C is way too expensive..."), and the particular ways that particular teacher wants communications/forms handled

• Also at least one sheet saying "Oh, you know that school supply list that got sent out? You don't need any of that, and please don't send it, and please send everything on THIS list instead, even though all the school supplies are sold out by now and I have extremely particular requirements on brand, color, material, and size!"

• And many sheets will not have the teacher's name or the grade anywhere on them, so I will have to make sure I know which child just handed it to me before that child runs off and doesn't know what I'm talking about when I ask

• And oh, crud, have I seen a bus schedule yet?

42 comments:

Suzanne said...

I am still debating whether or not we're doing 3 year old pre-school this year and I'm overwhelmed. So this post is pretty much my worst nightmare.

chrissy said...

Dang it, I just realized that I successfully shopped for and divided up all of the school supplies and made sure everyone has them stuffed into their backpacks and ready for the first day...but I forgot to put names on them. THE HORROR.

MomQueenBee said...

Do. Not. Miss.

Beth said...

Did we already discuss the school supply issue here? In our district we are able to purchase a box of supplies directly from the school that is delivered to your child's classroom on day one. Pretty much everyone does that now. It's maybe a tiny bit more expensive but it is also a fund raiser for the school, so it's a no brainer. Zero shopping for school supplies!

Leeann said...

OMG, yes to all of that!! Only one more year of elementary school left at least. I also have gotten in the habit of buying some things on closeout and they have to shop "my store" first.

Beth's idea ^ is a good one but my kids love picking out their own folders and notebooks etc. It's a small price to pay for how much they love to do it IMO.

Charleen said...

I always loved back to school time as a kid, and I anticipate being just as excited as a parent. Of course, I don't plan on having five kids; I imagine it will be easier with one or two.

Amanda said...

Afuckingmen and I don't know how you do it with five. I can barely function with two and thank the fsm that they go to different schools so I can keep them somewhat straight. But this year "we're" starting middle school and so I'm entirely unprepared and am sure to screw it all up. I finally had a handle on elementary school.

And WHY WHY WHY answer me WHY do all the school supplies disappear before September? We don't start until after Labor Day and if a teacher has something to add to the list, I can never find it for under 1 milllllllion dollars in the wrong color. Thank you Amazon Prime which saves my ass every year. I mean...do we really need to ditch all the pencils and pens for Halloween costumes before school even starts?

Ooh that was a bit of a rant...apparently I'm bottling this up.

AND you just semi-reminded me why I give away a hefty portion of my kids' college funds to keep an Erin Condren Life Planner every year. I can't keep all of the school/sports stuff straight without a big fat visual that weighs 5lbs that I have to carry around.

^ I might turn that verbal dump into a blog post :D

Brenna said...

My favorite so far this year was the email from my sons school giving "many packs of college-ruled notebook paper" as an "essential" item (so I bought a dozen packs), but coming home with a supply list yesterday that requests wide-ruled paper! Gah!

shin ae said...

My goodness, I forgot about all that stuff now that I home school, but YES. YES. Now I remember. SO AWFUL. It was bad enough with only two kids. Well done keeping it straight with five.

Alice said...

oh god. i LOVVVED back to school as kid (SHOPPING FOR SCHOOL SUPPLIES YAAAAY!!!) but i never thought about it from my poor parents' point of view.

christina said...

I wish that our school did the supplies as a fundraiser or at the very least at least acknowledged that we are in fact buying double supplies that are communally pooled.

I'm really torn on the whole communal supply aspect. Some teachers are really cool and let the students keep something that is special (folder, pencil, their box) but others take it up and "donate" it to the class. We have the ability to buy our kids their supplies and I'm happy to give extra when we are able. Shoot, I'd even be happy to "sponsor a student" or two. I just resent being sent a very large, doubled up, brand/color specific list then buying all those items and having my child come home with items that were not comparable to what we sent (off brand, paper when told plastic folder).

I even let my oldest pick out her daily folder first year. Poor lamb didn't get it back and we had to go buy more because she was so sad.

Back to school. Oy Vey.
I am so not looking forward to the mountain of paper work that seems pointless.

cindy kay said...

And THAT is one big secret reason I homeschooled my kids....

Sam said...

I had to vent on Twitter the other night about just how clueless I'm feeling. My first (and still ONLY) child is starting a new school. I'm frustrated that they do NOT utilize their website AT ALL. It's at least a year out of date! Come on people, it's 2012. Let's get with the program. Getting an email sounds terribly efficient. We have parent teacher conferences on Friday, but will not get a call from the teacher until Wednesday. It's just that I am a notorious procrastinator, but I try very hard not to be one when it comes to dealing with kid's stuff. So when I feel like something is not being done within a reasonable timeframe, it makes me totally freak out. What do the REALLY prepared people do?

I've been frustrated, too, trying to buy a freaking backpack. The curriculum at my kid's school involves 1.5 inch binders, so many of the super cute and age appropriate backpacks are too small. Or you know, on back order *sending a glare to Pottery Barn Kids*

allstarme said...

Do you have any suggestions for good ways to label things so that the label doesn't fall off or wear off or whatnot?

Anonymous said...

Ha - love this!

This year though, this year, I've got my 3 kids in the same school building on the same bus. Two of them (4th and 5th grade) have the exact same supply list, and the other (1st grade) needs only a few things labeled. They now ask you to send in crayons/glue sticks/pencels/etc. for community use (which I prefer even though I know not everyone will contribute).

The paperwork though... yeah, ugh.

Saly said...

Oh man. The supplies are the worst! THE! WORST! Open houses for us are split by grades, usually k-2 and 3-6, on separate nights and asking us to not bring siblings. This...doesn't work for me.

Maggie said...

Started mentally composing a response to every point then realized it would be huge, so instead I just say YES to all of this.

I will be so glad when it's October and things have settled down - no more back to school nights, events, parties, volunteer scheduling blah blah blah. Have started dreading September mid-way through summer.

Swistle said...

allstarme- THE ETERNAL STRUGGLE. I use permanent marker whenever possible.

Ale said...

I know states are different but in MI, if they require you to have a specific supply, they have to provide it. My aunt is a teacher and she actually told me that she does not buy school supplies for her boys because if they require, crayons to color school work, a pencil to write with etc., because it is required, the school has to provide it. Now, I buy basic supplies every year for my kids but when they start sending refresh the supplies notes, I certainly don't rush right out, but take the time to find a sale.

artemisia said...

Oh, my. I'll have a cold cocktail in your honor.

Suburban Correspondent said...

See? You've hit the nail on the head as to why I am STILL homeschooling (after 15 years). I'm lazy. Simple as that.

Sara said...

Yeah, my daughter is entering 2nd grade and I already feel it is a total pain in the butt. I stockpile supplies when they go on sale, just to have around for the kids to color etc. But sometimes it is just crazy--last year she had to bring in 6 glue sticks and 2bottles? I wondered if the teacher liked to eat it. And this year she needs 4 packs of pencils? Not to mention she is supposed to bring in dry erase markers and batteries. It could be worse, since I have heard some schools ask for donations of toilet paper!

I was happy that they finally gave us a list on the last day of school. The previous 2 years we didn't receive a list until the week before school started. I'm not planning on labeling her stuff b/c the last two years it was all used communally. I'm sure I will be wrong this year though...

shriek house said...

I'd been resolutely not dealing with this, but now am hyperventilating productively. So, uh, thanks!

Clarabella said...

I only have one, & I forgot to send his lunch money with him today even though I spent all evening yesterday labeling and packing and filling out forms.
You are a GODDESS for managing the 5!
(In my defense, this was his first day of Kindergarten, so I've never done any of this before.)

Amanda said...

1st grade - 30 glue sticks. THIRTY. They used them all too. I must admit that much.

Also - backpacks = LL Bean. It's a must. They replace them if they get worn out but I've never had to. Kid 1 went all the way through Elementary with the same pack which is still in good shape. I only let him get a new messenger bag for Middle for style. Kid 2 has had the same one since K and is entering 4th grade. LOVE LL Bean.

Abbe said...

Suburban Correspondent, people look at me skeptically when I say I homeschool my (5) kids because I'm too lazy to send them to school, but this post proves my point. I buy the school supplies I need and then a few extras because new pencils and smooth, clean spiral notebooks make my heart sing.

Sue said...

I have successfully gotten 3 out of 4 into , and away to college, my baby is a senior this year. I feel your pain! One thing I can, maybe, help with is those silly forms, our school district still uses the same info/ contact card, I scanned it years ago and when the new ones come in, I just pop them in the printer and they're done. Easy peasy and not a writers cramp to be had!

Stimey said...

This is exactly every feeling I have on back to school. NIGHTMARE.

Gigi said...

I only had the one but I remember the nightmare.....particularly about the initial paperwork. Come on! In this day and age, there HAS to be an easier way.

Jolie said...

Why can't they provide forms like the doctor's office does? Print out what's in the computer and let me initial if it's correct! The filling out the new forms drives me up the wall.

Our school asks us to send in the supplies without labels and they are redistributed randomly to the entire class. Inevitably, my children come home with supplies that are either NOT what was requested or of a lessor quality than what I sent in. This irks me to NO END. Can't my child just have the folder that I payed for??? Honestly, why don't they ask one family to bring all of 1 item? You - bring 30 orange, 3-prong, plastic folders. You - bring 30 boxes of crayons. You - bring 30 packs of pencils. It would be SO much easier!

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

My head is spinning just READING about it. You have my deepest sympathies.

CARRIE said...

I'm such a freak....AND SO ENTIRELY SICK OF MY CHILDREN BEiNG IN MY GRILL ALL SUMMER LONG...that I am happy to deal with all that junk. It's a small price to pay for a little quiet.

phancymama said...

I cannot believe that some of you have to buy supplies that are then given to other kids, while your kids get supplies you did not buy. I just...don't get it. wow.

Amanda said...

phancymama - I think what happens is that supplies are communal and the teacher just hands them out as needed. At the end of the year, in my experience, the teacher redistributes by saying "okay pick what you want, everyone can have 2 glue sticks..." and your kid picks the ones they've never seen before not knowing that they're inferior just that their mother didn't buy it and thus is way better ::eyeroll::

Slauditory said...

Schools have gotten really organized with these supply lists. I don't think I had one when I was in elementary school; I used what my parents bought me. The first school "items-to-buy" list I ever received was a summer reading list for 7th grade. Life is getting more complicated for parents.

It's good that schools are looking out for the students whose parents can't afford much, though. Back in the day, middle-class parents had to pass stuff along on the sly. I remember my mother bought my classmate a coat in kindergarten.

Angie said...

I cannot imagine doing all of this for 5. I dread filling out of all of those forms for two for the first time this year. I always loved buying school supplies as a kid, but our school highly encourages buying them through the school as a pack. It isn't as much fun, but it's so easy. I finished my school supply shopping in May. The school doesn't make money off of it, but I think I could still get some of it cheaper with back to school sales.

phancymama said...

@Amanda, ahhh, thanks for the explanation. I still understand a parent's irritation, but I get why it happens!
And I forgot to mention earlier that I sympathize on the forms filled out multiple times! Would a fancy new pen for the project soothe the feelings a little bit?

Courtney said...

As a teacher, I appreciate the reminder to make sure teacher's names are on each form. Even with two kids in different schools I don't think about stuff like this!

Lisa said...

Hahaha. YES! It is so hard to send many children to school. It is hard to send ONE child to school. So much to keep track of!

My 3rd grader needed 72 pencils. Seriously??? That is quite a bit of writing folks.

Yes! on keeping track of PE shoes and which days the library books need to be back for each child.

I have kids at the high school, middle school, and elementary, so I am juggling the start/stop time, bus schedule time, pick up/drop off times.

Plus, packing lunches! Aaaack!

It is sooooo crazy. Also, my BABY goes to K this year. All 5 in school. So while it will be crazy getting them off, while they are away, I will be enjoying that time!!!

JCF said...

Okay, this is good for me to read. My oldest is starting Kindergarten this year, but we're homeschooling. So I do have a bunch of stuff to buy, but it is all my choice. We are doing a co-op one day a week, so he'll need so basic supplies for that, along with a backpack and lunch box for each of the three kids (the younger two will be in the co-op preschool room). I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of the decisions and purchases I have to make, and got a little panicky earlier this week about our decision to homeschool. But this is a good reminder that I'd still have a bunch of purchases/decisions to make even if he were going to public school this year. Calming down now...

Katie Swaner said...

Don't even get me started on communal supplies... I never would have thought we'd be doing this in 3rd! grade especially after we DIDN'T in 1st and 2nd, but... oh well. I already labeled everything anyway. Ha!

And I'll add one more: The "Please describe your child to me in 500 words or less" essays I have to write before Monday. Arg!

Katie said...

I was just sitting here wondering why I feel so depressed every September. I forget every year and every year I'm surprised when it happens again. The title to the blog just summed it up. I'm SO READY for normalcy and routine and I mark the first day of school on the calendar and think "This is when normalcy starts" and then it never starts until like a month in....So I HATE the first month.